“No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” John 15:13 (AMPC)
What is a friend? Webster’s Dictionary says: “One attached to another by esteem, respect, and affection; an intimate”. The writer of Proverbs says, “A friend loves you all the time…”
One of the greatest statements ever made about a person was: “Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous. And so Abraham was called God’s friend.” James 2:23b (GNB). Think about that for a moment. God and Abraham shared a unique relationship as friends including love, honor and respect. When most of the world had gone far away from worshipping the only true God, God revealed Himself to Abraham and from then on, in his heart, Abraham wanted to please God. Abraham made serious mistakes in his walk with God, but step by step he learned Who God truly is. Eventually when Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, the angel said, “For now I know that you fear God.” Genesis 22:12 (GW) This means he truly loved God, believed in Him, and obeyed and honored Him. He was truly God’s friend.
However, to be a friend of God does not stop with Abraham. Because Jesus loved us so much and laid down His life for us, we now can be His friends, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:14 (MKJV) He went on to say, “But I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (vs 15) We are honored and respected by Jesus when we obey Him by doing what He commands us to do. What are some qualities of true friendship?
1. True friends love each other in the good times and in the bad. Jesus loves us even when we make mistakes or sin, and we learn to love Jesus more when He keeps and delivers us during trials. This quality should also be carried into our families and marriages. When a husband and wife are true friends, it is easier to follow I Peter 4:8 (ERV) “Most important of all, love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins.”
2. True friends tell each other secrets they tell nobody else. When Jesus is our friend, He reveals to us how much He loves us personally, and He leads and guides us to come closer to Him. As for us, we can tell Jesus everything that is on our hearts – the good and the not-so-good – and He hears and understands without condemning us. “Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin!” Hebrews 4:15 (CEV) This quality also should be brought into our marriages – marriages of true friendship. We should keep no secrets from each other, even secrets that we tell nobody else. We should be able to tell each other our deepest desires and needs.
3. True friends do not suddenly turn against each other. Jesus is the ultimate example of a friend, “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (KJV) Sometimes friends whom we trust disappoint us, but it says in Proverbs 18:24 (GNB) “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers.” May we and Jesus be friends forever; may we as husbands and wives be friends forever. And, when we have someone who is a special friend, never must we turn against them.
True friendships are meant to last a lifetime.